I never dreaded aging, knowing, as I do, that it beats the alternative. But Dad died suddenly and unexpectedly five days before my forty-seventh birthday, and just today, a week out from my forty-ninth, I realized that I now link my age increase with his sudden death.
It’s a bummer.
Before Dad died, my birthday, positioned near the last day of winter, always conjured for me hopes of spring. Daffodils were usually out by then, though that is not the case this year. The odd brave forsythia could be spotted (again, not happening this year). As the equinox approached, the angle of the sun bent back onto my deck, and things held an air of potential. I had ideas to write and a conviction that the time spent writing them was time spent well. I easily connected with that life force, that surety that I was alive and living fully, with purpose.
I took it for granted.
For Christmas I received a 365 day calendar, the kind where you tear off a new page each day. I find myself startled at how quickly the thick stack of thin sheets printed in kittens and italicized wise words has diminished. Today’s quote is Longfellow, sappy and contemplative. I like tomorrow’s better: “The darkest hour has only sixty minutes.” (Morris Mandel)
It turns out that I don’t care for daily calendars. The need to turn them regularly eludes me, and I end up peeling away weeks at a time to get caught up. I lose the continuity of wisdom; it feels like skipping chapters in a book, but I toss them unread. I do flip quickly to see the pictures of the kittens, though. Daily calendars produce in me a psychological anxiety similar to an hour glass – the surety of pages dwindling, the passage of time and no means to prevent it, no matter how cute the kitten, no matter how wise the words.